Distributor:  Scorpion TV
Length:  54 minutes
Date:  2010
Genre:  Expository
Language:  Spanish / English subtitles
Color/BW:  Color
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La Americana

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The immigration debate gains a human face in this intimate cinema-vérité tale of Carmen's dangerous and illegal journey from Bolivia to New York in hopes of earning enough to support her ailing daughter back home.

La Americana

October 2000, Cochabamba, Bolivia. Maria del Carmen Rojas, a young single mother, faces a life-changing catastrophe when her nine-year-old daughter Carla is struck and run over by a bus, leaving Carla in a wheelchair, and Carmen with insurmountable medical expenses.

Unable to pay for Carla's hospital bills and specialized care, Carmen borrows money from friends and family to keep her daughter alive. With no opportunities to earn a sufficient living to support her daughter, Carmen tries in vain to get a visa to go to the United States. As her desperation grows, Carmen decides to leave Carla behind and make the dangerous journey to the U.S. After nearly suffocating in the trunk of a sedan crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, Carmen makes it to New York where she can send money home and give her daughter the chance to live a life with opportunity, despite her disability.

June 2006, New York City, U.S.A. Living and working illegally cleaning houses and stores in the U.S, Carmen earns enough to support Carla from afar. Though Carmen is able to provide for her daughter's medical needs, Carla does not understand why she must grow up without her mother.

Carmen cannot visit Carla in Bolivia, as she knows she may not be able to cross back into the United States, on which their lives would depend. Unable to get any working papers, Carmen watches in frustration as Congress defeats a bill granting amnesty to long-term undocumented immigrants. But as six years of separation approaches, so does the date at which Carmen promised her daughter they would be together again: Carla's quinceañera.

After risking her life to come to the United States, Carmen must once again sacrifice what she has come to know as home, and the security of Carla's future, so that she can keep her word and be at her daughters side.

February 2007, Cochabamba, Bolivia. It is only seven months into Carmen's stay, but the joyful reunion of Carla's birthday party already seems like a distant memory. Carmen's money has run out, and her daughter needs an operation that she cannot afford. Though no immigration agreement has been reached in Congress, 6,000 national guardsmen have been placed on the U.S.-Mexico border. Will Carmen risk her life again in the California desert? Will Carla understand losing her mother again? Will Congress make a way for undocumented immigrants to see their families without losing their American dream?

La Americana is Carmen's story, and the story of millions of illegal immigrants forced to leave their families behind in order to provide them a better life. It is the story of a continent divided not by values, but by a physical and political barrier that separates families indefinitely, sometimes forever.

No reviews available.


* Best Documentary New York Latino Film Festival
* Best Documentary, Ojai Film Festival
* Best Documentary Urbanworld Film Festival
* Best Documentary Jury & Audience Awards, Cine Las Americas Film Festival
* Best Documentary, Orlando Hispanic Film Festival
* Special Jury Mention, Los Angeles Latino Film Festival
* Official Selection National Geographic All Roads Film Project and over 30 international film festivals

00:00.02;18                 [FIRST FRAME OF FILM]

                                    [EXT. STREET]

00:00.05;28                 CARMEN:  (VO) I’m not that strong of person.  If I’ve been strong until now it’s for my daughter.  If this hadn’t happened to her, I wouldn’t live this way.  I never had those dreams other people have of leaving your country behind to go and earn more money, that was never my idea.

00:00.33;08                 CARMEN:  (VO) I would have liked to have been a really good mother.  I don’t feel I’ve been a good mother, because I haven’t had time with her.  I left her when she was only nine years old by now she’s all grown up.

                                    [INT. HOUSE] [SUPER: JUN 27 2006 – 6:17:56 PM]

00:00.55;26                 INTERVIEWER:  (OS) What’s your name?

00:00.58;08                 CARLA:  [ANSWERS IN SPANISH]

00:01.02;08                 INTERVIEWER:  (OS) Carla, how old are you?

00:01.04;28                 CARLA:  14 years old.

00:01.07;29                 INTERVIEWER:  (OS) Is it hard living here in Bolivia without your mother?

00:01.14;01                 CARLA:  Yes…I miss her a lot. 

00:01.19;02                 INTERVIEWER:  (OS)  What do you imagine that your mom’s life is like in the United States?

00:01.27;14                 CARLA:  I don’t know.  She must be sad there too because she doesn’t have her family by her side either.

                                    [OPENING CREDITS]

00:01.52;01                 [SUPER: PEOPLE’S TELEVISION PRESENTS]

00:01.56;20                 [SUPER: BY DIRECTOR NICHOLAS BRUCKMAN]

00:02.17;03                 [SUPER:  CO-DIRECTOR JOHN MATTIUZZI]

00:02.44;16                 CARMEN:  (VO)  My name is Maria del Carmen Rojas.  I’m from Cochabamba, Bolivia – the poorest country in South America.  I came to the United States in the year 2000.  I’ve been in New York for almost six years. 

00:03.14;28                 CARMEN:  (VO/ON) I work here in a cleaning company, cleaning apartments, taking care of an old lady, sometimes taking care of children, sometimes dogs.  So I do pretty much everything. 

00:03.41;10                 [SUPER: LA AMERICANA]

                                    [ACT I]

00:03.57;20                 CARMEN:  (VO) On the day that Carla’s accident occurred, I was out working.  Everyday she would go to school along with two of her cousins.  That day they took the bus, they got to the corner of 25th and Calama Street and the three of them got off the bus.  And as they were trying to cross, one of them made it to the other side and Carla was the one who was hit by the bus.

00:04.43;28                 CARMEN:  (VO) She arrived at the American-Bolivian Hospital with a massive hemorrhage.  The doctors said that if she had arrived fifteen minutes later she would have died.  After many operations she woke up and asked me to move her legs for her. 

00:05.03;21                 CARMEN:  (ON/VO) And since then my daughter has been in a wheelchair.  So there was no way I could earn enough money to pay for all of her needs.  She had many more needs than before.  And I was in debt because I had to borrow money from people to pay for all of her medical examinations.

00:05.29;28                 So the only choice I had was to come to this country.  I was denied a visa to come to the U.S. because I didn’t meet the requirements.  I didn’t have a house, or any money in the bank which I needed to qualify.  So I had to get a visa to go to Mexico. 

00:05.55;13                 CARMEN:  (VO)  I got a plane ticket and I made my way up to Tijuana.  I managed to get to the hotel.  The smuggler came looking for me there at night.  I was really afraid there because it’s a pretty scary city. 

00:06.15;08                 CARMEN:  (VO) They came and picked me up at five in the morning.  A woman and her two daughters.  It was a small car that only had two doors.  Part of the back seat had an empty space about his big.

00:06.30;13                 CARMEN:  (VO) I had to squeeze in there and lay on my side.  So I had my body lodged in that space and my head was behind the daughter’s back. 

00:06.45;24                 CARMEN:  (VO) When we were about to cross from Tijuana into the United States she told me not to move my head an inch and that I had to endure it.

00:07.01;03                 CARMEN:  (VO) With my back bent like that I couldn’t breathe.  I thought I was going to die.  And I was thinking one more minute…just a few more minutes…I can survive this… it will only be a little bit longer.  This is going to end.

00:07.22;05                 CARMEN:  (VO) And it did.  They inspected the car but weren’t able to see me.  And I’ve been here since…working.

                                    [EXT. STREET]

00:07.41;11                 CARMEN:  (ON/VO) I’m always in a hurry.  I can never just relax. Since I have to leave one job and go running to the next I’m always trying to make it on time.  I can’t complain about that because I need the work and I need the money.  So you’ll see, I’m here, I’m there, I’m all over the city.

                                    [INT. CARMEN’S EMPLOYER’S APARTMENT]

00:08.07;00                 NEWSCASTER:  (VO) The hottest topic in American politics at the moment is immigration…

00:08.11;05                 NEWSCASTER:  (VO) ...and following the President’s call for a major overhaul to the nation’s troubled immigration system.

00:08.16;19                 POLITICIAN:  (VO) In the next six months there is only going to be one issue settled in Washington and that is do we give amnesty or don’t we give amnesty to 11 million illegal aliens...

                                    [INT. CARMEN’S APARTMENT]

00:08.34;26                 CARMEN:  (ON/VO) Hi sweetie.  Fine.  How are you?  You don’t have any homework?  It’s strange, she doesn’t complain much.  She’s never asked me if one day she’ll walk again.  I’m guessing she already knows she won’t.  I’ve never told her because I’m just no capable of doing that.

00:08.56;21                 CARMEN:  (ON/VO) You have vision problems?  Oh no, I guess I’ll have to buy you glasses.  Well, you’ll have to wear them.  It’s for your own good.

00:09.07;18                 CARMEN:  (ON/VO) She doesn’t tell me much.  She says that she’s fine, so that I don’t feel bad.  It’s because my mother tells her that I’m working very hard here and that I have too many problems to hear about her feeling sad.

00:09.23;16                 CARMEN:  (VO/ON) Who hates you?  He’s just jealous of you because those guys don’t get good grades.  Many times she’s asked me to go back or asked me when I’m going to come home.  One time she asked me, “How much money do you need before you can come home?”  She says that I already have enough and she doesn’t need any more.

00:09.48;24                 CARMEN:  (VO/ON) OK princess, alright my love I’m sending you a big kiss, the size of heaven.  But I need to leave her a little inheritance something that he can live off of.  Her father abandoned her a long time ago so the only person that can help her is me.

00:10.28;26                 [EXT. PARK] [SUPER: QUEENS, NY]

00:10.32;19                 GEORGE:  (ON/VO)  C’mon Carmen, let’s go!  Give it to her, she’s open.  That’s yours Carmen.  I met her at a wedding, a wedding I didn’t even want to go to.  We danced and I asked for her phone number.  That’s how our relationship began. 

                                    [INT. APARTMENT]

00:11.11;07                 GEORGE:  (VO/ON)You know love has no motives or reasons.  Love comes overnight when you least expect it.  And when it knocks on your door, when it touches your heart, there it is.  You can’t control your heart, and in my case that’s what happened.

00:11.18;05                 NEWSCASTER: (VO/ON) The other major story today the senate has approved the most sweeping changes to nation’s immigrations laws in a generation… those who’ve been in the U.S. for more than 5 years and work toward citizenship.


00:11.30;23                 SEN. BILL FRIST:  This is a success for the American people, it is a success for the people who hope to participate someday in the American dream.

00:11.37;18                 NEWSCASTER:  But the biggest fight is yet to come.

00:11.39;20                 SENATOR:  It will never become law, I’ll vote against it, that’s amnesty.

00:11.44;20                 NEWSCASTER:  (VO) Thousands of protestors demonstrating in support of a path to citizenship for the 11 million illegal immigrants now in the country.

                                    CROWD:  (SHOUTING "YES WE CAN!")

00:11.56;00                 NEWSCASTER: (VO) What do they want?  They want to come out of the shadows they say.  They want some sort of legal status, what they will say they want are their "papeles" or their papers.

00:12.06;21                 CARMEN:  (VO) If they pass that law I could work here and go home for a short while to see my family, and then come back, even if it were just for Christmas.  I wouldn’t care if it was only two weeks, I would really enjoy them.

                                    CROWD:  (SHOUTING)

                                    [INT. CARMEN’S EMPLOYER’S APARTMENT]

00:12.31;28                 CARMEN:  Are you happy to see me?  Me too.  I’ve missed you a lot.  Flaca!

00:12.43;20                 FLACA:  Yes?

00:12.45;07                 CARMEN:  The towel please.

00:12.48;01                 CARMEN’S EMPLOYER:  (OS) “I will go,” the other one is, “Do I want to go.”  So, “We will you go out Saturday night.”

00:12.57;11                 CARMEN:  No I won’t.

00:12.58;27                 CARMEN’S EMPLOYER:  (OS) What about you will you go out Friday night?

00:13.01;27                 CARMEN’S FRIEND:  Uh, no I won’t.

00:13.03;17                 CARMEN’S EMPLOYER:  (OS) You w-o-o-o (PRONOUNCING THE “O” SOUND)

00:13.05;01                 CARMEN’S FRIEND:  Won’t.

00:13.05;21                 CARMEN’S EMPLOYER:  (OS) W-o- (PRONOUNCING THE “O” SOUND)

00:13.06;12                 CARMEN’S FRIEND:  Won’t.

00:13.07;10                 CARMEN’S EMPLOYER:  (OS) That’s it.  Won’t.  I don’t want to hear “yes, I want.”  I don’t want to hear, “No I no want.”  So, do you want to go to Bolivia?

00:13.20;11                 CARMEN:  No, I cannot.

00:13.22;28                 CARMEN’S EMPLOYER:  (OS) Cannot or no I can’t?

00:13.25;02                 CARMEN:  No, I can’t.

00:13.25;27                 CARMEN’S EMPLOYER:  (OS) If you say “yes I do, no I don’t, yes he does, no he doesn’t…”

00:13.42;18                 CARMEN:  (VO) I’ve always thought about leaving.  I’ve always said, “I’m going to go now, I’ll go in a month, I’ll go in six months, I’ll just stay until Christmas.”  I don’t think I’ve saved enough money yet.  I don’t know if I have enough to help her.

00:13.58;29                 CARMEN:  (VO) If I had entered with a visa, I could have tried to marry someone to become legal.  But since I entered through Mexico I don’t have that opportunity.

                                    [ALT. INTS. CARMEN’S APARTMENT & LAWYER’S OFFICE]

00:14.26;01                 CARMEN:  (OS) If I go back to my country now and I’m able to arrange for a citizen to go and marry me there will there be any problem when I try to get my papers and come back to the U.S.?

00:14.39;17                 LAWYER:  (OS/ON) Ma’am, if you leave this country, it will be between very difficult and impossible to return.  If you’re here illegally and you leave this country for any reason there is a law that says that you can’t return for – do you know how long?

00:14.57;15                 CARMEN:  No.

00:14.58;09                 LAWYER:  (OS/ON) Ten years.  Now, there are people that say, “Well, there’s no record of me being in this country.  When I get married to a U.S. citizen, and they prepare my papers I’m just not going to mention that I had been in the United States illegally.”  Now this is the advice of someone dishonest, crooked and incorrect.  And it’s extremely risky, because if you leave this country they are going to take not that you were here and then…let’s just say it’s a very bad idea.  Okay?

                                    [ACT II]

00:15.39;18                 [SUPER: ONE MONTH LATER]

                                    [INT. CARMEN’S APARTMENT]

00:15.48;01                 NEWSCASTER:  (OS/ON) No one has died but it’s a tragedy of monumental proportions for the immigrant community, particularly for the millions of undocumented immigrants in the United States.  Because as of just a few moments ago, the bill for immigration reform is dead.  What’s your take on this?

00:16.06;26                 NEWSCASTER:  (OS) Well, Pedro, as you said, this comes as a shock to many people, and it’s causing much sadness

00:16.16;11                 NEWSCASTER:  (VO) …on the hill, the senate dealt what appears to be a fatal blow to one of the President’s top priorities, immigration reform.  The senate soundly defeated legislation that would’ve put many illegal immigrants on the road to citizenship.

00:16.40;03                 CARMEN:  (VO/ON)  It would have been wonderful if she could have come visit here.  But I already told you how difficult it was to get to this country.  And she could never come legally, if they know that I am here.  They would think she is coming to reunite with me and that we would stay here.  I’m not a threat to anyone.  Nor am I hurting anyone here in any way.  But they think that I am.  I don’t understand.  I just can’t understand it.

00:17.30;23                 CARMEN:  (VO/ON) So I haven’t seen her grow up, the way many of us haven’t seen our children grow up, the way many of us haven’t seen our mothers buried.  One day I asked her what she wanted for Christmas.  “What do you want me to give you for Christmas?”  She said, “I don’t want anything, I just want you to come home.”  Why don’t you be my Christmas present?  That’s all I want.”

00:17.59;28                 These things are so painful, even though you like to hear them, they hurt because you want to be in both places, but you can’t.

00:18.42;16                 [EXT. STREET] [SUPER: BOLIVIAN CARNIVAL, QUEENS, NEW YORK]

00:19.27;02                 CARMEN:  (VO) I’m still not sure but she’s going to turn 15 soon and I had always thought that on her 15th birthday we would be together.  I don’t want her to be alone anymore.  So I’ve picked that date and decided it’s time to go home.  It’s time to go back now.  Even though I haven’t yet saved enough money.  She needs her mother.  And I need my daughter.

00:20.17;27                 INTERVIEWER:  (OS)  there anything you’ve wanted to do here before you go?

00:20.24;12                 CARMEN:  I’ve never had a chance to see the Statue of Liberty.  I’ve never been to the zoo.  I’ve never been – I don’t know, I’m a little…depressed.

00:20.39;04                 CARMEN:  (OS/ON) I had always thought of doing those things if my daughter could come.  I would have liked to have gone with my daughter to the Statue of Liberty.  But she’s not going to be able to come so that will never happen.

00:21.17;00                 CARMEN:  (VO/ON) I’ve heard of it, but I never saw that dream.  I’ve heard it many times, “the American dream.”  But the American dream is a theory, in reality it doesn’t exist.

00:21.50;05                 CARMEN:  (VO/ON) For the people who have papers maybe it does.  Maybe for them the American dream does exist.  But not for people without their papers like me…and we are many.

00:22.09;26                 CARMEN:  (VO/ON) We are the ones doing the jobs most people don’t want to do.  Cleaning your house?  Someone like me.  Washing your clothes?  Someone like me.  Taking care of your children?  Someone like me.  So I don’t know why they say that we’re -- or why they want to get rid of us when, really, they need us.

00:22.35;19                 CARMEN:  (VO/ON) You have to lie and you have to walk, you have to risk your life to get here in the first place.  You have to get into debt.  You have to leave your whole family and all the thing you love behind: your house, your possessions, your pets, your children, your mother.

00:23.19;18                 CARMEN:  (ON/VO) This isn’t true.  Maybe it was once, but not anymore.  The words are hollow like the statue.  It’s a pity that this will be the first and the last time that I’ll be able to come here.  I can’t tell you exactly how I feel right now.  It’s just a symbol.  But it’s not a reality.

                                    [ACT III]

                                    [INT. CARMEN’S EMPLOYER’S APARTMENT]

00:24.07;13                 CARMEN’S EMPLOYER:  Everything will be good, you’ll see.  Everything will be good, you’ll see.

00:24.13;01                 CARMEN:  Bye-bye.

00:24.14;22                 CARMEN’S EMPLOYER:  Bye.

00:24.15;10                 CARMEN:  Bye.

                                    [INT. NEW YORK AIRPORT]

00:25.10;14                 CARMEN:  Don’t worry, Flaca, everything’s going to be okay.

00:25.25;02                 GEORGE:  I will always be at your side…always.

00:26.06;24                 [SUPER: COCHABAMBA, BOLIVIA]

                                    [INT. BOLIVIAN AIRPORT]

00:26.33;27                 CARLA:  (CRYING)

00:26.58;02                 CARMEN:  Don’t cry princess.  I’m here now.  I’m not going to leave you again.  I’m going to stay here with you, okay?

00:27.09;26                 CARMEN:  Momma!  I’ve come back, don’t cry.

00:27.34;12                 CARMEN:  Oops!  I’m sorry.  I’m sorry again.  I don’t know how to push the wheelchair.  I’m not used to it.  I love you.  I love you so, so much.

                                    [EXT. STREET]

00:28.00;03                 CARMEN:  How crazy, honey.  Look at your face, how you’ve changed!

00:28.04;24                 CARLA:  You’ve changed.  You’re fat now, you were skinny before.

00:28.08;09                 CARMEN:  Oh, please.

                                    [INT. HOUSE]

00:28.29;04                 CARLA:  Don’t drop me.

                                    [INT. BUS]

00:29.05;06                 CARMEN:  Look over there at the horses!

00:29.08;06                 CARLA:  They’re so pretty!  Look at the white one!  And he’s got a grey tail.

00:29.17;08                 CARMEN:   There’s some more.

                                    [EXT. MONKEY HABITAT]

00:29.25;18                 CARMEN:  (OS/ON) They say you can’t bring anything not even your bag.  No watch, nothing.  They’ll pull off your ponytail and bite you.

00:29.35;13                 CARLA:  I know!

00:29.37;08                 CARMEN:  (OS) I’m serious, they said so.  They’ll even go through your pockets.

00:29.40;24                 CARLA:  Really?

00:29.42;14                 CARMEN:  They’re professional pickpockets…thieves.

00:29.49;06                 CARLA:  Look, they’re grooming each other.

00:29.52;19                 CARMEN:  Don’t be scared.

00:29.58;19                 CARLA:  Aww, look at him.

00:30.01;01                 CARMEN:  He’s checking all around to see what you’ve got hidden.

00:30.05;16                 CARLA:  Is she pulling on you?

00:30.07;27                 CARMEN:  Yes, she wants to clean my nails.

00:30.18;14                 CARMEN:  You wanted the monkeys, here they are!

00:30.22;15                 CARLA:  What are you looking for?

00:30.24;15                 [SUPER: TERRITORY OF THE SPIDER MONKEY CHIEF]

00:30.27;17                 CARMEN:  So this is the chief’s wife?  If you mess with her the chief will come and eat you.

00:30.33;27                 CARLA:  She’s the chief’s wife?

00:30.39;17                 CARMEN:  She’s the first lady.

00:30.42;23                 CARLA:  She wants to groom me.  Go ahead, look.  Go ahead, look.

00:30.51;27                 CARMEN:  She tried to bite me!

00:31.02;21                 CARMEN:  (VO) It’s like getting to know her all over again.  Doing these things together helps me discover who she is.  The only thing that affects me about being here is that I won’t be able to earn as much as I used to.  But really I’m just very happy to be back with my daughter.

                                    [ACT IV ]

                                    [INT. HOUSE]

00:31.46;10                 CARMEN:  I’m going to ask my Mom.  How long has Carla’s hip been broken?

00:31.53;23                 CARMEN’S MOTHER:  Through some doctors I met this chiropractor.  That’s what he’s called.  The other one is the traumatologist.  This one deals with bones.  He’s a specialist, though.  According to him it wasn’t his fault, but he is the one who did it.

00:32.12;01                 CARMEN:  Did he have her x-rays?

00:32.14;07                 CARMEN’S MOTHER:  No, he didn’t.

00:32.16;09                 CARMEN:  (OS) He didn’t even ask you for x-rays?  How could they do this?  I swear, mom.  It’s outrageous what these people do.

00:32.23;22                 CARMEN’S MOTHER:  I said, “You did this, she was fine before.”  He said, “No, she was like this already, she must have fallen or something.”  She did fall once, but not so bad as to cause this.  He put her like this…and then on the other side.  Then he bent her back like this.  Even with her back like that, he did it.

00:32.48;13                 CARMEN:  He must be the one who broke it then.

00:32.58;17                 CARMEN:  (VO) My mom just tried to do what they recommended.  I’m in no place to be judging her.  She did me a big favor by taking care of my daughter for so long.  All I can say is that she loves Carla very much and with the little that she knows, she has tried to help her.

00:33.25;07                 CARMEN’S MOTHER:  My life has been very sad along with the lives of my children, because back when they were all little there was never enough money to put them in school.  I couldn’t even give them a decent place to live.  We all lived in a room this small.  Just like this.  Nothing else.  That’s where we cooked, that’s where we ate and that’s where we slept.  I had to support all of them working alone.

00:33.59;27                 CARMEN’S FATHER:  I’ve missed you a lot.  Do you understand me?  But thank God I have you now here with me again.  Welcome back to your home my daughter.

00:34.17;05                 CARMEN:  My father is here.

00:34.19;12                 CARMEN’S FATHER:  Good morning.

00:34.19;29                 CARMEN’S MOTHER:  Good morning.

00:34.24;09                 CARMEN’S MOTHER:  Carmen’s father, he seems like a good person but he really isn’t.  He looks like a decent guy, but no.  He’s always with one woman, then another, and another.

00:34.39;06                 CARMEN’S FATHER:  Here, things have changed a lot as well.

00:34.42;19                 CARMEN:  Yes, I know.

00:34.45;06                 CARMEN’S FATHER:  Things have been going better for me.  I’ve left all of the bad friends behind, I’m dedicated to my work now.  I have good relationships.

00:34.55;18                 CARMEN:  How many more little brothers have you made me by now?

00:34.58;29                 CARMEN’S FATHER:  Three more children.

00:35.01;07                 CARMEN:  Unbelievable!  You should be ashamed of yourself.

00:35.03;21                 CARMEN’S FATHER:  But why my baby?  Don’t make it bigger than it is.

00:35.06;02                 CARMEN:  You have like fifty children and you’ve never managed with them as it is.  Unbelievable.  Oh, Dad.  You are like a big child, you haven’t matured in the least.

00:35.16;22                 CARMEN’S FATHER:  Don’t think that.

00:35.17;29                 CARMEN:  It’s true.

00:35.19;05                 CARMEN’S FATHER:  How do you feel, my love?

00:35.21;02                 CARLA:  (OS) Fine.

00:35.22;12                 CARMEN’S FATHER:  Are you happy?  You have achieved your goal.  Mom’s here.  Now don’t you go worrying anymore, okay?

00:35.35;24                 CARMEN:  (OS) She was crying when I arrived at the airport.

00:35.40;03                 CARMEN’S FATHER:  (OS) You know that your daughter’s emotions are something that no one can control.  So much time you’ve lost.

00:35.50;07                 CARMEN:  Now she doesn’t want to part for a second.

                                    [INT. HAIR SALON]

00:35.56;02                 CARMEN:  Carla, what is it that you want exactly?

00:35.59;11                 CARLA:  I want it put up.

00:36.01;20                 CARMEN:  We can make it spiky here, like in that photo.  Like this one?  You like that?  You’re going to look like the Statue of Liberty.

00:36.21;06                 [SUPER: THE LOOK FOR YOUR 15TH]

                                    [EXT. HOUSE]

00:37.28;17                 CARLA’S FRIEND:  I’m going to turn 10 soon.

00:37.31;04                 CARMEN:  And your mom when will she come?

00:37.33;29                 CARLA’S FRIEND:  Christmas she says.  My mom is far away.  You have the hiccups.

00:37.48;23                 CARLA:  My mom just came home for my birthday.

00:37.52;22                 CARLA’S FRIEND:  You must be happy.

00:37.58;07                 ALL: (SINGING) Happy birthday to you…For she’s a jolly good fellow…

                                    [EXT. DOCTOR’S OFFICE – SUPER: TRAUMATOLOGIST]

                                    [INT. DOCTOR’S OFFICE]

00:38.54;24                 CARMEN:  You see I’m still strong, because if I wasn’t I wouldn’t have pulled that off.

00:38.58;24                 DOCTOR:  Put her on the bed.

00:39.02;21                 CARMEN:  On this leg, her knee has frozen like this.

00:39.06;03                 DOCTOR:  Her knee will remain like this.

00:39.08;02                 CARMEN:  It can’t heal?

00:39.09;27                 DOCTOR:  No, it’s been too long already.  It’s stuck together now.  This part has solidified, you see?  And once this is stuck together, it’s very hard to recover from it.

00:39.21;20                 CARMEN:  Not even with therapy?

00:39.23;28                 DOCTOR:  She needs therapy, regardless, for the rest of her life.  She has to have physical therapy for the rest of her entire life.  And she needs hydro-therapy as well.  She needs a pool.

00:39.34;27                 CARMEN:  So it doesn’t matter if her hip remains broken like that?

00:39.37;25                 DOCTOR:  (OS/ON)  It doesn’t matter because it doesn’t bother her.  It doesn’t matter.  So she’ll benefit from all those things. You’ll be able to help her more.  From my perspective, those things will help her a lot.

00:39.49;05                 CARMEN:  God bless you doctor.

00:39.50;26                 DOCTOR:  Okay, Carla?  That’s how we’ll help you.

                                    [EXT. STREET]

00:40.03;18                 CARMEN:  (VO) I don’t regret coming back.  I needed to come.  At least now I know what’s going on with her.  She has so many problems and over there I never knew about them.  Even aside from the broken hip and the bedsore, she needs so much special care.

                                    [INT. HOUSE] [SUPER: PHYSICAL THERAPY & REHABILITATION]

00:40.35;04                 CARMEN:  (ON/OS) My daughter is paraplegic.  The problem is that I haven’t seen her for six years.  She’s fifteen years old.  I also wanted to find out how much you charge.  Thank you, goodbye. 

00:40.52;04                 40 Bolivianos ($5.00) for every visit.  She says she needs to go five times a week minimum.  I could never pay for that much therapy working here.  That’s impossible.  I can spend my money on the vital things, like her food or spend it all on the therapy.  Those are two very different things.  There is not much room for a choice.

00:41.21;15                 CARMEN:  (VO) I’ve had to start working because the money I brought is going to run out.  I’ll spend it all and soon I’ll have nothing.    They don’t pay me a lot.  I make 50 Bolivianos per day, which is not even ten dollars.

                                    [SUPER: ONE MONTH LATER]

                                    [INT. HOSPITAL]

00:41.58;22                 CARMEN:  I’m getting very nervous because the money I brought with me is practically gone.  They told me she needs hydro-therapy, which is another kind of therapy.  I don’t know how much that will cost.  They need to perform surgery on her, to cure her bedsore.  Afterwards, I’ll still try to get her hip fixed.  I have no idea how much money I’ll need to pay for all of this.

                                    [SUPER: PHYSICAL THERAPY]

                                    [INT. THERAPY ROOM]

00:42.39;28                 PHYSICAL THERAPIST:  Just one kilo.

                                    CARLA:  (LAUGHS)

00:42.44;07                 CARMEN:  (OS) (LAUGHS) Don’t exaggerate…11…12…13…

00:42.52;14                 PHYSICAL THERAPIST:  (ON/OS) Simple, isn’t it?  All right, that’s enough on your arms for now.  Your arms are quite strong.  But we’ll make them stronger.

00:43.01;03                 CARMEN:  (OS) Much stronger.

00:43.05;05                 PHYSICAL THERAPIST:  I really don’t like the way her tibia is rotating.  Since we have to deal with that fresh wound as well you have to work with extra caution.

00:43.17;26                 CARMEN:  (OS) How many times a day?

00:43.19;20                 PHYSICAL THERAPIST:  Three times.  There is also a high risk that her other hip might give out.

00:43.30;08                 CARMEN:  (OS/ON)  And now she’s been this way for God knows how long.  You even start losing courage.  It feels as if there is never enough time to do everything.  And do you know how much money I’ve spent already?  It’s terrible.  I’ve spend over a hundred dollars just on diapers.  There is more aside for therapy and food, taxi rides, which I need to get around with her.

00:43.57;02                 PHYSICAL THERAPIST:  You’re right.

00:43.58;27                 CARMEN:  This is costing me a ton of money.  The money I earn won’t last at all.

00:44.06;12                 PHYSICAL THERAPIST:  It would be good for just a short while.

00:44.09;08                 CARMEN:  Just a year, if even that long.

00:44.16;05                 PHYSICAL THERAPIST:  (OS) Excuse me, Ms. Carmen.  Come with me for a minute.

                                    [EXT. PARKING LOT]

00:44.41;16                 CARMEN:  (VO/ON) This morning when we saw the physical therapist he spoke to me in private.  He asked me whether I was conscious of the magnitude of my daughter’s problem.  He said I should be aware that her condition isn’t something that can be fixed, that it’s degenerative over time.  And this is too much for me to hear now, on top of everything else.  And you can only watch. 

00:45.09;25                 But the problem is still there.  The problem remains.  The problem doesn’t stop.  Instead it seems I keep on needing more and more.  And here, where will I get the money to pay for all of the things she’ll need?  I just don’t know.

                                    [ACT V]

00:46.24;16                 GEORGE:  I don’t have any opportunity of legalizing and being able to leave this country.  Now it’s up to me to work alone and support them from here.  I have to help out as much as I’m able.  But we did have a plan of becoming a family, the three of us.  It all depends on whether they make a way to legalize the undocumented immigrants.

00:46.54;15                 I love this country, it has given me so much opportunity.  The only thing we’re missing is a change to live more… freely.

                                    [SUPER: SEVEN MONTHS LATER]

                                    [INT. HOUSE]

00:47.49;22                 CARMEN:  (VO/ON) I’ve begun to regret having come home.  Maybe if I had stayed in the U.S. a little bit longer, I’d be able to do more.  Maybe if I had come with more money I wouldn’t be thinking about going back.  But it’s not as much as I thought it would be.  The way things in life don’t always work out the way you want them to be.  If there was another solution to this it would be so much easier for me.  But it’s not about what I want.  This is about what I have to do.

                                    [EXT. STREET]

00:48.47;03                 CARMEN:  (VO) I would have liked to have been a really good mother. I don’t feel I’ve been a good mother, because I haven’t had time with her. 

00:49.21;06                 PRESIDENT BUSH:  (VO) Good evening.  Tonight I’m calling on congress to provide funding for dramatic improvements in manpower and technology at the border.  We will employ motion sensors, infrared cameras, and unmanned aerial vehicles to prevent illegal crossings. 

00:49.39;07                 America can be a lawful society and a welcoming society at the same time.  The great hope on the horizon, an open door to the future, a blessed and promised land.  May God bless America.

00:50.10;01                 CARMEN:  (VO/ON) What are they referring to when they say “God Bless America?”  I’ve hear the president say that phrase since, I don’t know, the whole time I’ve been here.  And I’ve seen it written everywhere.  But I think that America is not just this country, but rather the whole American continent. 

00:50.31;15                 An American is a Mexican, an Ecuadorian, a Colombian, a Salvadorian, a Guatemalan, all of them, they are Americans.  They exclude all of Central America and South America from what it is to be an American.  And yet those excluding us are themselves immigrants.  Maybe they were born here but they descend from immigrants.  This country is full of immigrants, governed by immigrants.

00:51.05;08                 And that’s what I mean when I say, I don’t understand “God Bless America” nor when someone says “I am American.”  I am American.  That’s the truth.

00:51.53;05                 MARIA ALTAGRACIA MATOS:  My name is Maria Altagracia Matos.  I’m from the Dominican Republic.

00:52.02;10                 [END CREDITS]


00:53.29;28                 [END FILM]


Main credits

Bruckman, Nicholas (Director)
Bruckman, Nicholas (Producer)
Bruckman, Nicholas (Cinematographer)
Bruckman, Nicholas (Film editor)
Mattiuzzi, John (Director)
Mattiuzzi, John (Cinematographer)
Mattiuzzi, John (Film editor)
Thomas, Jesse (Producer)
Thomas, Jesse (Cinematographer)
Thomas, Jesse (Film editor)

Other credits

Cinematography, John Mattiuzzi, Nicholas Bruckman, Jesse Thomas; editors, Nicholas Bruckman, John Mattiuzzi; original music, Richard Martinez, Eric Lubman.

Distributor credits

Nicholas Bruckman

Nicholas Bruckman

Docuseek2 subjects

Immigration and Refugees
Latin American Studies

Distributor subjects

No distributor subjects provided.


Immigration, Bolivia,health care; "La Americana"; Scorpion TV

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